Self-Hosted Alternatives to Proprietary Services You Can Run on Raspberry Pi

Many of the services you use online are owned and run by data-hungry, privacy-destroying tech behemoths that can withdraw your favorite service, change it, or break it on a whim.

With a Raspberry Pi you can run your own private services, so your data stays yours and you’re no longer at the mercy of predatory tech companies. These are the best alternatives to the most popular online apps.


Replace Google Docs and Drive With Nextcloud

nextcloud files view on Raspberry Pi-1

Google really is the one-stop shop for cloud storage and online office software. But with an increasingly limited free tier, it’s no longer the attractive option it once was.

At its core, Nextcloud on Raspberry Pi is a synchronization service with dedicated clients for all major operating systems. Instead of paying for additional storage on a monthly basis, you can easily expand the storage on your Raspberry Pi with a one-time purchase of a large microSD card or, even better, equip your Raspberry Pi with a solid-state drive (SSD).

Nextcloud has a huge range of free downloadable apps available, including the excellent Collabora Online—a collaborative office suite capable of handling documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more.

Don’t Use Gmail: Host Your Own Mail Server on Raspberry Pi

snappymail default desktop view

Almost everyone has a Gmail account, but by relying on it, you’re putting your privacy, security, and private correspondence into the hands of a third party that can read your emails. That’s a lot of trust.

Instead of relying on a third party to handle your mail, it’s easy to set up your own email server on a Raspberry Pi. You won’t be subject to Google’s rules and restrictions, and can easily configure your email server to work with your own domain. If you want a beautiful webmail front end, so you can access your email in a browser, SnappyMail is among the best.

Use PhotoPrism Instead of Google Photos

photoprism photo gallery with images of Northern Cyprus

Google used to offer unlimited storage space for photos—provided you were happy to downgrade the quality. But even this flawed offering was revoked in 2021 when storage limits were imposed.

PhotoPrism is a self-hosted photo gallery app that’s easy to deploy on Raspberry Pi and offers most of the features you find in Google. Highlights include object and face recognition, albums, search, world maps, categories, and more.

You can also set up PhotoPrism on Raspberry Pi to automatically import images from folders on your PC or from an upload directory on your Nextcloud instance. Third-party apps provide excellent mobile functionality.

Ditch Your Hosting Provider in Favor of Local WordPress

Turned-on Macbook Air Beside Black Iphone 4, Cup of Tea, and Notebook on Brown Wooden Surface

If you run a blog or a website, you probably pay for hosting fees with a web host. These can come to hundreds of dollars per year—even for a small site.

You can avoid those costs if you install WordPress on your Raspberry Pi. It’s quick and easy to do, and gives you complete control of your server’s back end, as well as the front end you access through a browser.

If WordPress isn’t to your taste, you could try other blogging solutions such as the Jekyll Static Site Generator, which has even lower overheads, and fewer vulnerabilities.

This setup can comfortably handle around 5,000 visits per hour on a domestic internet connection. This is more than enough for most blogs.

Instead of Google Analytics, Use Matomo

matomo web statistics dashboard

Google Analytics provides you with a great deal of insight into visitors to your website—but it provides even more information to Google. Don’t be part of a part of the problem.

Matomo is a privacy-friendly analytics suite that you can host locally on your Raspberry Pi, and which provides a wealth of information, offered up by your visitors’ browser and gathered in a non-intrusive way.

The web interface is highly customizable and allows you to track dozens of metrics, so you can work out who’s visiting your website and why. Best of all, your visitor data stays with you, rather than becoming part of a vast tracking and advertising machine.

If you need analytics on your site, but want to avoid Google, there are several privacy-friendly analytics solutions available.

freshrss showing feeds and categories and the full text of an MUO article

Google comes baked into almost every Android phone released today, and you’re only ever a swipe away from an algorithmically curated feed of news, stories, and titillating tidbits guaranteed to pique your interest and spur engagement.

But every story you click on sends more information about you to Google, and regardless what they actually do with this information, is that something you really want?

Take back control and keep your reading habits private with FreshRSS—a self-hosted RSS feed reader and server you can run on Raspberry Pi. You can subscribe to your favorite publications whether they have an RSS feed or not, and with a little configuration, FreshRSS will fetch the full article, not just the XML summary.

You can read feeds on your mobile device, either through the progressive web app (PWA), or with an open-source reader. You can also create filtering rules, so you’re not plagued by SEO-optimized “Best Of” articles.

With FreshRSS, your news feed is curated by you, and no-one is tracking the stories you like to read.

Watch Movies and Shows on Jellyfin, Not Netflix

Jellyfin homescreen with sections for films, music, audiobooks and YV shows

We’re being a little unfair in singling Netflix out in this entry. The mighty streaming giant is now only one of dozens of entertainment providers to which you can subscribe to get movies onto your telly.

While streaming shows is great, they exist at the whim of the provider and can be removed at any time. Jellyfin is a self-hosted media streaming server that you can host on Raspberry Pi, and with which you can stream to any number of devices.

If you have a large collection of media you already own, Jellyfin is an ideal solution, and provides a handy browser-based web interface, as well as native apps for mobile, desktop, and streaming devices.

Make sure you stay on the right side of the law by only stocking your Jellyfin server with public domain movies, or rip your owned DVDs on your PC. Jellyfin can additionally function as a music server, complete with artist, track, and album identification.

Listen to Audiobooks on Audiobookshelf, Not Audible

audiobookshelf library

Audible was once an independent company before it was swallowed up by Amazon, which now almost entirely dominates the audiobook landscape.

When you use Audible, your audiobooks are secured by digital rights management (DRM) and tied to your Amazon account. You’re limited to listening to your audiobooks on certain devices, and its decidedly uncool that the second most valuable company in the world is keeping tabs on your taste in literature.

Fortunately, you can still buy DRM-free audiobooks from retailers such as Downpour, LibriVox, and other independent retailers.

With Audiobookshelf on Raspberry Pi, you can easily manage your audiobook library, and stream or download onto any number of mobile devices or through the PWA. As you’d expect, books are synchronized across devices, and Audiobookshelf has a robust user management system.

You Can Self-Host Almost Anything on Raspberry Pi!

With a Raspberry Pi perched on the back of your couch, you can run self-hosted alternatives to almost any service you’d subscribe to online. You’ll be keeping your usage private and your data to yourself. It’s not too difficult to set up, and once you’ve started self-hosting, you’ll never look back.

To take the first steps, you’ll need to take some basic steps to prepare your Raspberry Pi as a web server.


🧪 |Medical Laboratory Scientist 🥇 | Mindset over Everything. 
 🤝 | Let's Grow Together.

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